Online Translation - The Future??
It is fair to say that most small to medium sized
GILT (Globalization, Internationalization, Localization
and Translation) companies have professional
looking and informative brochure web sites.
What is interesting is that more and more of
these companies are now following in the footsteps
of the industry giants and revamping their sites
to facilitate online translation services.
The service to which I am referring
is not machine translation, but an automated
online translation service where the user supplies
all project criteria such as materials (which
are uploaded), personal details, project details,
expectations etc. online. Once all requirements
have been supplied the user is given an immediate
quote onscreen and an estimate date\time of
completion. Once billing and payment information
has been entered by the user they will receive
an automated response via email, confirming
the transaction while a corresponding mail is
sent internally to the company's project manager
with all the project details.
It is then up to the project manager
to assign the project to a translator before
emailing the final product back to the client,
or making it available by other means (ftp\managed
server) depending on the projects size.
All very straightforward.
Some companies are now furthering
the automation of the process. Based on the
criteria of the project entered online the translator(s)
will be selected automatically from a database.
An email is sent to the translator, requesting
their services, and they will have a certain
amount of time to respond, before the project
is offered to the next most suitable translator.
Although based upon a complex IS system the
obvious advantage here would be bypassing the
bulk of project management costs and administration
To give the user an extra sense of satisfaction it is also possible for the client to track the status of their project via a personalised login to the company's extranet.
So it seems possible to automate
the entire process, cut out the middlemen and
make a reasonable profit, and if this is the
case then why aren't more companies doing it?
Maybe it is only a matter of time but the general
feeling within the industry is that despite
the obvious advantages to the system, customers
remain unconvinced of having their translations
completed without any human contact.
Presently, few companies offer
this kind of service. It started with Bowne
Global, Berlitz (who are now one and the same)
and more recently SDL have entered the fray.
Understandably, market leaders such as these
are equipped to offer a complete range of services,
therefore leading the way, it also is good to
see that smaller companies in the UK such as
K-International and The Big Word are also moving
into this area.
As more and more companies realize the potential in this and begin to offer the same service it is my feeling that it will become the industry standard for translation services. Optimistic surely, but not inconceivable.
I developed such a system for K-International a few years ago, www.quick2translate.com but unfortunately the company has failed to properly promote the site thus far and it is not living up to its full potential. On the other hand, SDL's Click2Translate is doing exceptionally well through brilliant promotion via their free translation service. It's all in the approach and I believe it to be only a matter of time before most translation projects are done solely via the web.
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